Friday, May 31, 2013

A Knackering Day

Whew!  At the crack of dawn (nine-thirty) Rebecca came by to pick me up for our run.  She is patient and encouraging, but I am sort of a geezer, so I whine and wheeze all the way.  We go a little further each time, despite my moaning, and I actually wheeze a little less – at least I think so.  My whining is unabated, however.

But that was not the truly knackering ordeal.  For years I had the same gardener, whom I liked a lot, and who did a lovely job.  But sometimes these relationships just go south, and this one definitely did.  But what to do now? My faithful readers will know that while I love my garden to blossom and be beautiful, my enthusiasm about working outside and getting it that way is absolutely nil. I truly envy those who enjoy gardening.  Sadly, I would so much rather cook – or even vacuum and iron. 

My grass was the big worry. Samos nobly mowed my lawn several times, but this seems like too much to ask of a friend, especially one who lives as far away as he does.  The prospect of doing it myself loomed ominously.  Many advised me to get an electric mower, but …. way too scary!   I am sure I would mow off my foot, or worse poke out my eye with a flying stone thrown from under the mower blades.  Rebecca, who used to suffer taking care of our yard, seemed a trifle schadenfreudig at my dilemma, no doubt thinking that I had been insufficiently grateful when she was doing it.  (N.B. I was always terribly grateful, and marveled at what a nice job she did.)  Despite schadenfreude, she nobly helped me get a push lawn mower (i.e., powered by me!) from her favorite on-line gardening tools place.  When it arrived, the prospect of assembling it was overwhelmingly daunting and sent me into yet another garden-related blue funk.  She had it together in no time, while I sat by and mewled at the prospect of actually using it. 

Well, today was the dreaded day.  The grass was looking very tall and perky, and I have a spate of busy days coming up.  By the time I would be able to get to it again, it would be knee high.  No more procrastination, I guess.  This morning after our run, as I was bemoaning my situation and the prospect of actual yard work, Rebecca thought I was asking her to do it for me, and started to mewl herself.  I explained that I needed moral support for getting it outside and doing the first pass.  We took it out and gave it a go.  It worked!  Rebecca whipped up and down the grass for a few lanes, and then, feeling little twinge of jealousy, I said, “My turn! My turn!” or words to that effect!  Yay!  And triple “yay” because after she left, I actually did the whole thing myself. Folks passing by seemed to be amazed by such an obsolete looking machine.  I, in full Tom Sawyer mode, offered to let them try it, but I didn’t get any takers. 
Dare I say it?  It was sort of fun.  I think, however, that it was the type of fun that is fun the first time only, and then gets old very fast. 

Oh dear! I think I feel a nap-attsck coming on!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Yet Another Fun Day (or two)

Playing Quiddler with the Aunties
I wasn’t particularly looking forward to the Memorial Day weekend, as I didn’t have anything planned – at least not anything more exciting than cleaning house.  In fact, I was a little resentful that I hadn’t been scheduled to work, reaping in all that overtime holiday pay.  But, the weekend turned out to be a really fun one. On Saturday, I helped my friend Michelle make curtains for her bedroom.  We hauled my sewing machine and the requisite gear to her house.  I had made a careful mental list of all that we would need and gathered it up well in advance. When we got to her house and opened up the machine, I was horrified to see that there was no bobbin in it, and worse yet, no little plate that covers the bobbin.  We drove back to my house, and couldn’t get in.  Aaarrrgh!!  Something was amiss with the door knob.  Fortunately, I was able to get in the back door, but when I searched my sewing room – no little plate.  Given that it was clear plastic, I must have taken it off to get the bobbin out at the end of the last project, and forgotten to put the little plate back.  Rebecca wondered why I would take the bobbin out, but explained that I used the bobbin thread to make the buttonholes. “Why would you do that?” she wondered. Well, because that’s what I do.  Generally when I get to the end of a sewing project, it's late and I am tired.  The perfect time to do something really, really stupid.  I must have gathered the plate up with all the sewing detritus and thrown it away.  While I was frantically thrashing around looking for it, Michelle fixed the front door.  Some good came of this disasterlet.  Fortunately, Rebecca let me borrow her machine and also the instruction booklet which I had also forgotten to bring. My machine is still so new that I have to look at the directions to thread it and to wind a new bobbin. It is totally not intuitive – unlike my sainted and dearly departed old sewing machine. Michelle and I, after tracking down Rebecca, meeting her at her house to pick up her machine, finally got to work.  We had frequent tea breaks, but just seemed to  more and more droopy.  When the curtains were done, they looked fabulous, but we were limp rags.  Michelle had specially purchased my favorite hearty tea, but later that evening, when putting things away, she discovered that the tea was decaf!  No wonder we were so exhausted after our busy day.  I went to bed at the unheard of hour of eight pm.

More fun on Sunday!  The Schola end-of-the-year potluck is the social event of the season!  I had looked at the calendar months ago and was sad to see that I would be working that weekend.  This was a disappointment, as I really enjoy this annual get-together.  After Mass, someone said, “Will I see you at the party this evening?”  I was shocked.  I had been certain it was the next week.  That was a happy surprise, so I rushed to the store to get the ingredients for my pot (coleslaw,) and hurried home to make it. The only downside to this was that if I had been better prepared, I would have arranged a ride for myself.  My faithful readers know how I hate to drive, particularly into unknown territory, and especially alone.  Joanne, a Schola member and one of those faithful readers, was concerned, and inquired about my trip to the party.  It had been mercifully uneventful, as I had mapped out my route in advance.  She then worried about my trip home, and was, I think, anticipating my account of the horrors of my return journey. But, mirabile dictu, that too was without incident.  Not even any traffic delays.  Yay!
Pauline's card shuffling machine must be over 60 years old!

On Monday, I had an indoor picnic with the Aunties. We played Quiddler, and I am happy to say that I won.  I never win when I play with The Twins.

Faux food - non-alcoholic beer and vegetarian weenies. Yum!

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Fun and Novel Evening

Allison, one of my most favorite nurses, is moving across the country to live near her family.  This is great for Allison, but not so great for us.  We will really miss her!  There have been several “Farewell” get-togethers, but for one reason or another I haven’t been able to attend any of them. Finally, there was a gathering on an evening when I wasn’t working.  Yay! A bunch of my colleagues were going to meet at a karaoke place.  It was even nearby, so that Laura and I could walk.  On our way, we saw a nice bee sitting on an onion flower and enjoying the sun,  and then we

stopped at the Seattle University chapel – a little island of light and tranquility in the midst of the neighborhood hubbub.

When we arrived, the atmosphere was very different from that of the onion and the chapel.  

This was a new experience for Laura and I.  Everyone else was about 400 years younger than we, and lives in a totally “other” musical world. 

We felt a little "out of it."

Neither of us know any popular music after 1962.  We wanted to sing Hank Williams or Elvis, but they seemed to be out of favor with the younger set.  We sang “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” and got booed off the stage.  We blamed this on the fact that it was in a bad key.  The younger set was fabulously talented!  What a happy surprise this was, although I don’t know why it should have been.  My coworkers are an amazing bunch, both in the great care they give our patients, and in their many faceted “at home” lives. 

Apple and Allison selecting the next selection

Ron and Maria checking the options

JuYeong giving it her all!  She was fabulous!

Jarrod emoting exquisitely

Darling Apple delighting us

Jarrod and Andy between sets

Maria, Apple, and our dear departing Allison

Thanks to Laura for many of these photos.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Medical Day (or two)

The ephemera of cougar dreams

I’m sitting here, trying to think of something interesting to tell you, but am stumped! I’ve had a sort of nice and sort of crummy week.  On Friday last, I did something to my poor knee and have been limping around ever since.  My discomfort reached its apex on Monday, and I actually made an appointment with a doctor.  I have gone voluntarily to the doctor for things other than routine maintenance about three times in the last thirty years, so that will give you a clue as to how much I dis-enjoy it.  I don’t enjoy the routine maintenance either, of course, but it is one of life’s ordeals which must be endured.  And I have cut that ordeal to the minimum.  Ugh.  The knee doctor, selected at random from a roster of unfamiliar Sports Medicine names – actually, he was the one with the first opening – was hyper-adorable.  Had I been forty years younger, I would have been in love.  But, I am not forty years younger, so I forwent (is that the past tense of “forgo”?) the tender passion.  As hoped, he said, “Keep off it, and it will get well soon.  Nothing critical.”  As also really, really hoped, he said, “Here is a note forbidding you to go to work for a week.  Call me if it isn’t better, and we’ll make it longer.”  Maybe I was in love after all.  Does this make me a cougar?  He was very young!  A baby, in fact.

Speaking of cougars, the last time I worked, I had an elderly patient with a very bizarre hairdo which looked like a bright golden swimming cap. The nurse giving me bedside report explained that the patient had this hairdo because she was a cougar, and the patient confirmed this.  I was thinking that this meant that the patient was a WSU fan, and I couldn’t understand what the hairdo had to do with that.  I was reluctant to ask about this, and so just pondered for a while.  Suddenly, hours later, as I was talking to her about her knee, I realized that I had the whole “cougar” thing wrong.  She was quite another sort of cougar.  We both thought my mistake was funny, and then discussed the joys of cougardom.  Later in the evening, I was in a different patient’s room double checking a unit of blood for a transfusion with another nurse.  It takes two nurses to do this, and it is quite the little ceremony.  A mistake here would be such a disaster, so every unit of blood is checked about ten times by two people each time before it ever gets to the patient. We make the patient spell her name, state her birthday, and then double check all the other paperwork that comes with the unit.  While we were comparing names, dates, blood types, and unit numbers, I heard Elvis singing in the background.  When we were done, I turned to the tv and saw a cop show.  “I thought I heard Elvis,” I said.  “You did,” they explained. I didn’t quite ever take in how Elvis got on the modern cop show, but it was clear to everyone else.  They asked if I was an Elvis fan.  This is the sort of thing that a music snob like me doesn’t really like to admit. I hemmed and hawed, but it quickly became apparent that we all loved Elvis.  The patient, in fact, had been a real groupie and had been to many concerts. Then Virginia, my nurse friend, pointed out that the patient’s birthday was the same day as her own.  I pointed out that it was the same year as mine.  “Why,” Virginia said, “we are all monkeys!”  The patient’s husband said that he was a monkey too. “Wow!” Virginia said.  “A room full of musical monkeys who all love Elvis.”  We thought this was as funny as the cougar hairdo. 

Lucky LeCompte -not a cougar

 I couldn't think of any relevant photos, so I named the top one so as to make it relevant, and Lucky LeCompte, while not a cougar, is a feline, making him tangentially relevant. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Another Fun Day

Channeling those "clever girls," The Twins!

When I asked Rebecca if she wanted to go to Jurassic Park with me, I was a little surprised when she eagerly said “Yes!”  I was even more surprised when she said she hadn’t ever seen it.  “Yet another movie classic I missed,” she said.

Rebecca is a tremendous movie buff, and has been since she was a wee tot when she adored Errol Flynn and Ronald Coleman.  No, she is not eighty years old, but we went to old movies at the University every Friday night for years and years. When she was about eight, we went to see “The Charge of the Light Brigade.”  About ten minutes into the movie, she had to be taken home because she had read the poem and knew how it was going to end.  She was hysterical at the thought of Errol Flynn riding into the Valley of Death.  She has been brave ever since though, and has never had to be taken home again.  I, on the other hand have had to be taken home from quite a few.  Rachael, the same!  We seem to be a family of movie wimps.  Rebecca, of course, left in sorrow, which is another thing altogether.  But Rachael and I both had to go home from fright.  That is, in fact, why Rebecca had not seen Jurassic Park.  It came out during her enforced movie hiatus – Rachael’s youth - a period when we could only go to the most absolutely unscary  and benign movies.  And even then, we made a few errors.  Once a movie had lobsters in a grocery store aquarium and it was too much for sensitive little Rachael.  When Rachael received “Beauty and the Beast” for a birthday present, (now one of Rachael’s top favorite movies,) Rebecca confiscated it for several years, knowing that it would be way too horrifying for her. Now that Rachael is braver, it’s one of her favorite movies.

So, Rebecca, knowing my tendency to movie fright, was a little leery of going to a scary dinosaur movie with me.  “I’m not afraid of dinosaurs,” I told her.  “It’s zombies that I can’t abide.”  She thought this was silly, but I explained that dinosaurs present no current danger, while one can’t be really certain about zombies.  She disagreed.  She said that dinosaurs are much more plausible than zombies, and therefore much more scary.  Be that as it may, I loved our movie afternoon, and didn’t get really frightened at all.  It was a gas film, as they say in the Auld Sod.  I’m so glad The Twins encouraged me to go!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Shopping Days

Ballyfree bowl and mug
Thirty years ago, shopping for dinner fixings in Ireland was a daily challenge, and often an adventure.  The corner grocery store where we bought rice and tinned food was a tiny shop with shelves up to the ceiling.  We brought in our list and handed it to the grocer.  He was a lovely fellow who always had the time to inquire about our day, or ask about “herself” when Rebecca was in school instead of helping me with the shopping.  Checking our list, he would climb up the ladder to gather our purchases for us. The bill was totted up on the brown paper bag.   He was amazed at how often we bought rice, and assumed that this was an American thing.  Why didn’t we eat more potatoes, he wondered.  Well, I’m a potato fan, but the potato crop that year was a bit of a flop and the potatoes were not at all appealing. They were aged hard things that didn’t cook up nicely at all.  We even read of potato trucks being ambushed and their cargo stolen.  We loved to shop with our friendly grocer, but he didn’t have most of what we needed so we usually had to venture further afield to assemble the ingredients for a complete meal .  The butcher shop down the street had dead cows hanging outside, gathering flies.  We didn’t go there, of course, and in fact, had to cross the road to avoid the stench of aging meat.  But a bit further on was a bakery where we bought our daily bread and our delicious teatime cakes.  Other provisions required trips to town.  We went to the vegetable store, the spice store, and were delighted to find a health food store where we could get dried beans and rice varieties beyond Uncle Ben’s.  We had several favorite delicatessens, and were thrilled when we found one which sold olives.  Once I was about to board a bus in front of the vegetable store when the clerk came running out and grabbed me.  “We have just gotten some Romaine lettuce,” he said. “I know that all Americans like Romaine.  I saved some for you!”  Actually, we preferred the usual Irish variety of lettuce, but I bought some anyway.  It’s the thought that counts, you know, and what could be more thoughtful than that? Then there was the Ballyfree egg store!  There, of course, one bought eggs, but also one could turn in the little Ballyfree emblems from off the egg cartons, and redeem them for Ballyfree crockery.  I was mad for the crockery, and as we were enthusiastic egg eaters, I collected the emblems quickly.  I first got a little egg cup, then another.  The egg cups were not that cute, but they didn’t require many emblems.  I got a mug and a bowl (very cute), but the thing I really lusted after was the milk jug (super cute.)  This took a LOT of emblems.  Could I get that many before the end of our Irish sabbatical?  My friends all bought Ballyfree eggs and saved me their emblems for me.  The number of my emblems grew!  Finally, one triumphant day, I turned in my more than seventy emblems and got the long coveted milk jug.  It was one of my finest treasures, and I delighted in serving milk for our tea in it.

Ballyfree milk jug from  etsy shop.  Already sold! 

I served milk in it for several years, but then one fateful day, a certain little girl who shall remain nameless, was doing something naughty.  I said, “Stop that” You’ll break my Ballyfree milk jug!”  But she didn’t stop! Crash! I was devastated. Usually, I was not angry about accidental breakages if they were really accidents.  But when one says to one’s child, “Stop that or this terrible thing will happen,” and then it happens, one is more inclined to be bitter.  It’s horrible, but I was bitter about this for years! Years! 

Angelic Becca has tried to atone by getting me several lovely milk jugs over time, and I love all of them.  She got me the green one shortly after the disaster, and it is actually quite a bit prettier than the poor Ballyfree one, but still….   Now it is very aged so I no longer use it for milk, but have it on display in my kitchen.  I think loving thoughts about my darling girl every time I look at it.  The autumn leaf one is a somewhat more recent gift, and it too seems too nice and delicate to use, so it is also on display. But then ….. we were wandering through the Metropolitan Market recently, whiling away time before the opera, when Becca spotted --- the perfect milk jug!  Cute, but not to beautiful to use! Not too delicate looking, and just the right size! I am happy every time I pour milk from it into my tea.